An 87th minute header from substitute Fiona Mearns helped St. Johnstone earn a point as a frantic last fifteen minutes rounded off what had been up until that point a fairly tame SWPL2 encounter at Oriam in Edinburgh.
Both sides came into the game on the back of defeats in a division that is fast shaping up to be one where points can be taken off anyone and at any time. Hearts went into the weekend top of the table despite having suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Dundee United last time out whilst the Perth side were still searching for their first victory of the season following a 2-0 defeat at home to FC Kilmarnock.
It was St. Johnstone who had the first attempts on goal as two long range efforts from midifielder Jade McDonald failed to trouble Emily Mutch in the Hearts goal but gave an early indication that chances would be a at a premium throughout the early stages of this match. St. Johnstone continued to shoot form range without much effect as the half continued whilst Hearts’ main threat came from a series of through balls that lively striker Lauren Evans couldn’t quite get on the end of although a Hearts effort on the half hour did call Saints keeper Rebecca Cameron into action. The best passage of play in the first period came from the visitors. Some intricate play around the edge of the box between Hannah Clark, Ellie-May Cowie and Nicole Carter ended with Clark diverting a shot towards goal that Mutch did well to get down to her left and keep hold of. It was a much needed piece of action to help rouse a healthy crowd in attendance at Oriam but despite the home sides earlier possession advantage it was St. Johnstone who ended the half stronger and a neat corner kick routine saw Rachel Todd turn the ball just wide of Mutch’s near post.
Perhaps aware that the pace needed quickened both sides came out the blocks at the start of the second half. Hearts’ almost immediately took the advantage as a through ball from midfielder Jenny Smith was latched onto by Aisha Maughan however the attacker’s effort was well smothered by Cameron. Hearts continued to be in the ascendency and had their best chance of the game when Ashley Carse played in Evans who after rounding the keeper was denied by Rhiannon Tweedie’s block on the St. Johnstone line.
It looked as if the game was heading for a stalemate but Evans was not to be denied and on the 82nd minute she put the home side ahead. A lobbed ball through from midfielder Rachel Walkingshaw put the striker into the danger area but she still had plenty to do outmuscling and then skipping past both a Saints defender and the goalkeeper before tucking the ball in at the near post with the defence scrambling. It seemed a just reward for Hearts’ more adventurous second half display but just five minutes later Mearns rose highest to get on the end of a right wing corner to scramble home a equaliser and with time ticking down it looked like it might be the visitors who would sneak an unlikely victory. It wasn’t to be though and a point was enough to keep the Jambos top of the SWPL2 pile come the end of the day.
Hearts Goalkeeper Emily Mutch gave her thoughts on the game and her aims for the rest of the season: “I think in the first half we didn’t play well enough but in the second we dominated and we just needed to take our chances. I think we can build on it even though it’s disappointing to only come away with a draw but we can use that to motivate us in our next game.”
“For Hearts we want to finish top of the league and get promoted. Personally I’m working hard as I’d love to be involved with the squad for the upcoming Women’s U19 European Championships that are being held in Scotland.”
Hearts: Mutch, Delworth, Hunter, Walkingshaw, Kids, Carse, Smith, Pagliarulo, Kaney, Evans, Maughan
St Johnstone: Cameron, Milligan, Tweedie, Clark, McDonald, Carter, Shepherd, Todd, Foote, McGowan Cowie
Celtic 0-0 Motherwell
Forfar Farmington 0-7 Glasgow City
Hibernian 4-0 Rangers
Stirling University 0-3 Spartans
FC Kilmarnock 2-0 Glasgow Girls
Hamilton Academical 12-0 Hutchison Vale
Hearts 1-1 St. Johnstone
Partick Thistle 2-1 Dundee United